GUWAHATI, May 21 – In all, thirteen student and youth organisations of Tinsukia district had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 4 last year expressing serious concern over the environment and forest clearance being recommended by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on the River Valley Project and the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to the large hydropower projects on the Dibang, Lohit and Siang rivers in Arunachal Pradesh.
They had said that the environment and forest clearances were accorded to the projects without prior and comprehensive downstream impact assessment, cumulative impact assessment and public consultations in Assam.
This letter has become more relevant in view of the MoEFCC according environment clearance for construction of the 2,880-MW Dibang Multipurpose Project in Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh. The project is being built by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd at a total estimated cost of Rs 25,347 crore.
While according environment clearance to the project, the Ministry said, “After five years of the commissioning of the project, a study shall be undertaken regarding impact of the project on the environment and downstream ecology. The study shall be undertaken by an independent agency to be decided in consultation with the Ministry.” Thus, it has become evident that the MoEFCC had made a mockery of the agony expressed in the above mentioned letter by the 13 organisations. The MoEFCC had based on the recommendations of its Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects.
The thirteen organisations, which included the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva-Chattra Parishad (AJYCP), All Man Students’ Union (AMSU), All Assam Moran Students’ Union, All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union among others, had written to the Prime Minister following the environment and forest clearance accorded to the project by the EAC and the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the MoEFCC. They argued in their letter that since the Dibang Multipurpose Project is planned to moderate floods in Assam, there should have been public consultations in Assam on this project.